As New York lawmakers began to consider a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide, the New York State Catholic Conference launched a new website “to offer Catholics moral clarity and guidance on the Church’s teachings regarding end-of-life decision-making.”
“Talking about death and dying can be difficult and uncomfortable, yet perhaps no conversations are more profound or necessary for all of us,” according to a statement on the “About” section of the website, catholicendoflife.org.
“The fact is that most of us will face challenging decisions regarding treatment and care at the end of life, either for ourselves or our family members,” the website stated.
Developed with a grant from the Our Sunday Visitor Institute, the site provides links to resources, Church teaching, advance directives and a variety of Catholic sources all across the country.
The Catholic Church teaches that physician-assisted suicide is immoral and unethical.
In a Feb. 9 interview with the Daily News, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York said he and the state’s other Catholic bishops have put a high priority on fighting any effort to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Others opposed to assisted suicide include evangelical Christians, Orthodox Jews and Mormons.
Cardinal Dolan, who is chairman-elect of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, told the Daily News that “real death with dignity” is seen in the cases of “those who die naturally, who take each day at a time, savoring everything they’ve got.”
In their 2011 statement on assisted suicide, “To Live Each Day With Dignity,” the U.S. bishops declared assisted suicide “a terrible tragedy, one that a compassionate society should work to prevent.”
“A choice to take one’s life is a supreme contradiction of freedom, a choice to eliminate all choices,” they said. “And a society that devalues some people’s lives, by hastening and facilitating their deaths, will ultimately lose respect for their other rights and freedoms.”
Currently, four states have legalized assisted suicide: Oregon, Washington and Vermont, through legislative or voter action; and Montana, through a court ruling.
In addition to New York, lawmakers in Alaska and Colorado have taken up the issue in their legislatures. At least 14 states are considering similar legislation.